ARMONK, N.Y. -- Open enrollment for health insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act was the focus of a recent discussion in Armonk.
The speakers gathered at the North Castle Public Library earlier this month to discuss qualifications and initiatives. The act goes by alternative names, including Obamacare and the ACA.
Aaron Smith, co-founder of the group Young Invincibles, argued there is a false notion of young people not wanting health insurance because they think they don’t need it.
Smith said, “There was this myth that young people thought we were invincible and that’s why we didn’t get coverage.”
Smith attributed the historical lack of insurance for younger people to jobs without benefits, the high cost of insurance, aging off of parents’ plans and unemployment. He also noted that young people without insurance end up in emergency rooms, which leave them with expensive medical debt.
Because of the healthcare law, Smith said, three million young people have obtained health insurance.
Discussing this year’s open enrollment, which began in November and runs through February, Smith said millions of people don’t have information about provisions available to them.
“They’re used to this feeling that coverage is just always going to be too expensive and out of their reach,” he said.
Smith also addressed a disparity for insurance access among younger people and said reducing that is a priority during open enrollment. He said, for example, 26 percent of younger Latinos lack health insurance while the number is 16 percent for all younger people.
Data from Young Invincibles shows that during the last open enrollment period, 75 percent of those who enrolled were uninsured.
Smith’s mother is state Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), who was present for the Nov. 10 talk as a spectator.
Amber Wilson, an organizing manager for Young Invincibles and a navigator under Obamacare, discussed an initiative used during the last open enrollment at Westchester Community College.
“One of the difficulties students have is being able to stay in school because of access to healthcare,” she said.
Wilson recalled that the last initiative included fairs on Thursdays and presentations. It also involved participation in what is called a single-stop program, which Wilson explained is a case-management program for students.
Wilson said this time there will be a information table in the student center on Mondays and faculty and staff will be encouraged to discuss the program due to their interactions with students.
Claudia Calhoon, who is involved with the New York Immigration Coalition, discussed the impact of Obamacare on immigrants. She argued that covering immigrants, regardless of their status, is beneficial because of public health, economic opportunity and taxpayer savings through making primary and preventative care accessible alternatives to visiting a hospital emergency room.
According to Calhoon, people considered "lawfully present immigrants" are subject to the law’s individual mandate. Meanwhile, people in some immigration statuses can receive Medicaid in New York State. Calhoon said these situations include receiving asylum, having their deportation suspended and some visa holders. Additionally, she said people under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are Medicaid-eligible.
Open enrollment in New York State is offered through a state exchange called NY State of Health.